New Delhi: The National Advisory Council,
headed by Sonia Gandhi, today recommended distribution of
subsidised foodgrains to everyone in at least 200 most
disadvantaged districts across the country by April next year.
The NAC, after a day-long meeting, also suggested gradual
expansion of universal public distribution system to other
blocks but with a caveat of differential pricing.
It suggested people living in the poorest of the poor
districts or blocks, which include Naxal-affected regions,
should get 35 kg of foodgrains -- rice, wheat, millets and
pulses -- at a subsidised rate of Rs three per kg.
A view in the Council was that these measures could be
implemented from next financial year by making policy changes
without waiting for the passage of the Food Security Bill in
The NAC also agreed to recommend to the government
extension of PDS to at least 33 per cent of the population
living in urban areas, particularly slum dwellers, and the
At its next meeting on August 30, the NAC will deliberate
on the nitty-gritties of the recommendations, including the
financial burden on the exchequer and ways to meet it.
It also decided to suggest to the government to implement
a scheme to ensure complete nutritional support to vulnerable
segments of the population, including pregnant and lactating
mothers, street dwellers, homeless, aged and infirm, and those
suffering from diseases like HIV/AIDS and tuberculosis.
A long standing demand of right to food activists for
setting up community kitchens could also be a reality with the
NAC backing it completely.
There was a feeling in the NAC that community kitchens
could be rolled out in 64 cities which would provide
nutritious food twice a day at affordable prices for the
vulnerable section of the population.